[Eagle Noise] are alternative rock band based in Los Angels. Their latest album “This Machine” is a fine collection of uplifting songs full of chiming guitars and heartfelt vocals.
I sat down with members Casey Simonson, Dan Gumienny, Max Marcy and Matthew Haddad to talk about their early musical experiences, how the group formed and the making of “This Machine” which you can get here.
CMM-What was the first music that really made an impact on you all growing up and what artists and bands did you all enjoy the most?
Dan: As kids growing up, I know the music that brought Casey and I together as artists in the earliest formation of the bands we were in together was like Modest Mouse and Say Anything. But then we got really deep into 90’s alternative rock like Pavement and Built to Spill, and from there we dove into their influences like The Fall and The Replacements, and then ultimately circling back and listening to more classic rock like the Stones and Zeppelin, which really is where I started my music journey, listening to The Beatles on an iPod on the fucking bus.
Casey: I think I’d be remiss to not mention Wilco, which is probably the first band that made me really realize the full spectrum of what you can do with rock music, and I remember geeking out about them to literally any of my friends in high school who would listen, which is probably how Dan and I really started becoming friends, by demanding he join my Wilco based cult. The first time I heard Wilco too, I vividly remember I was on a road trip with my dad, and he asked me to pack one of those CD binders, and I reluctantly grabbed Wilco’s Summerteeth, knowing they were my dad’s favorite band. I always thought they were kind of old guy music, but I felt like I should give them a chance if I was going to be stuck in the car with my dad for 12-15 hours, and honestly the minute those first notes of Can’t Stand It hit, I knew I was in love.
CMM-When did you all first start playing instruments and making your own music and how did the two of you meet and form Eagle Noise ?
Casey: I learned guitar because I was writing lyrics that had musical accompaniment in my head, and it got to a point where I was sick of just writing poetry, so I was like, “Might as well teach myself guitar.” I started out just looking up chords for Wilco songs funnily enough, and then eventually Dan and I met in High School
Dan: I also played the guitar.
Casey: And we just ended up in a variety of different bands together.
Dan: The first one was “Captain of Ship”
Casey: But the formation of Eagle Noise really came out of, I knew I was going to move to LA and I had only a few weeks left of living with my parents so I just started recording some songs by myself in my parents basement, and I invited Dan over one day while I was recording, and we just recorded 4 songs basically in two-ish days? And that’s what became our first EP Bigot. It was wild because it was the first time we really took recording what we wrote seriously and we were like “You can just do this?”
Dan: Instead of just jamming and writing music on the fly and it disappearing into the ether to never be heard by anyone.
A big thing happened to me where, I believe, stoned out of my mind, I put on I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo, and I had this moment that I realized you can make something that speaks to you, and as long as it speaks to you it will speak to someone else. So I had this revelation where I needed to go somewhere, not Upstate New York (where we’re from), that I had the best chance of it being heard, or just being able to do it.
Max: That’s called manifest destiny.
Dan: I guess I manifested my destiny, sure.
Casey: So Dan got out here, we just started writing songs, we had a friend Jackson who was playing with us, we were just switching up instruments, making whatever came to our heads honestly, not taking it too seriously but just having fun. Eventually, Jackson moved out of LA, and we sort of realized we wanted to take it a bit more seriously, and 3 guys changing instruments every 3 songs on stage was not exactly a compelling live show.
Matthew: So I had recently dropped out of a femme-queer-punk band. It had been a solid 3-4 months since that happened, and my friend Emilie who was like “I have this friend who is looking for a drummer, are you interested?” So I checked out their stuff on Spotify and it wasn’t a style I was really used to playing but I was interested in jamming and checking it out. I even hit up Dan and was like “I’m listening to all these songs, which ones should I learn?” and he was like “Oh don’t worry about that.” But it was like instant. I’ve been in a ton of bands where it wasn’t the right fit, but it was just like instantly compatible, and I’m sure Casey and Dan would agree that after a few sessions it was just not even a question.
Dan: Now we’re inseparable.
Max: And they’ve been in love ever since.
Matthew: We still give each other good night smooches.
Max: I moved to LA also from upstate NY, but completely separately and many years after Dan and Casey. But they’d been through many different bass players and literally my childhood best friend’s roommate’s older sibling knew the Eagle Noise guys when they were kids, they grew up together, and they recommended me to play bass and they knew I was looking for people to play with. Similar to Matthew, Casey was like come jam with us, and I was like “What songs should I learn?” and they were like, “Nah just come and play whatever comes to your head,” and it just worked out.
CMM-The group recently released a really exciting record called “This Machine”. What was the writing and recording process like? Any notable pieces of gear that you used throughout the sessions?
Casey: Dear lord. We’ve had these songs kicking around for just way too long.
Dan: Literally four years.
Casey: Writing just came out of jamming honestly, at the earliest it was just Dan or myself would bring an idea, or a riff, or sort of a shell of a song to whoever we were calling Eagle Noise at that particular moment, and we’d mess around for a few hours and record it on Dan’s iPhone, and then we’d call it a day. But once Matthew joined I feel like is when all the material really came together.
Matthew: Oh you.
Casey: It’s true though!
Dan: It’s true.
Casey: The songs changed structure, became a lot tighter and more raw..
Matthew: We recorded everything wrong. The mixing process was much more problem solving than it was actual mixing.
Dan: And thus resulted in a lot of re-recording. Including re-recording every drum track at one point. Just putting it down and being like “We can’t do this anymore, we just need to re-record it.” I remember there was a moment where it was like “Man this is too much.” I had never gotten that deep into music before, I was more focused on writing, it was a completely different mindset. But once we really got into it, I realized we had something on our hands that was really special.
Max: An interesting thing that I think hasn’t been said yet is that you guys recorded all the parts like at home, in different places, in apartments and homes and basements.
Dan: Starting from Scarlets, and then we used Apollos, we recorded drums on this little plastic Zoom recorded. We recorded all the drums in Matthew’s garage practically.
Matthew: Pretty much.
Dan: And all the guitar parts were recorded in our bedrooms on literally whatever we could find.
Matthew: All of the mixing experience that I have is almost entirely electronic music, so I had little to no experience in sound engineering. So the entire process was basically trial and error.
Dan: And learning on the spot.
Matthew: Much more error than it was trial, honestly.
Casey: It was like engineer by committee. All of us would just show up and do whatever was needed for the day, and always something would go wrong. Like “why aren’t we getting playback to Matthew’s headphones?” And then we’d fix it, we’d record, and then next time we’d go track drums, we still could not remember how we got playback last time.
Dan: That’s exactly what happened.
Casey: But honestly, I think I can say this because I stayed a little outside of the mixing process, but I know Matthew and Dan worked their asses off to get these songs sounding as good as, frankly, I think they do.
Dan: Oh, you.
Casey: I know my dad has been playing this record for everyone and keeps telling everyone “It’s legit, they recorded it in a real studio!” and I had to be like :Dad we did not do that! He was a little disappointed, but I like that he thinks it sounds legit.
CMM-If the band could collaborate on an album with another band or musician who would it be and what direction do you think the music would go in?
Matthew: We’ve played with a good amount of different bands all with different styles. For our release show, we had Cole Ray and the Shiners open for us because our styles blend really well and we respect the hell out of them as musicians. Max even joked how we were worried that they were gonna do a cover of one of our songs cause they’d play it better than us.
Casey: I think they actually did learn “Eagle Noise Jr.”
Dan: I think you’re right. I hope they play it at another show.
Matthew: I think they’d probably push us in a more punk direction, which is kind of where a lot of our newer material has been leaning anyway. But they obviously have a lot more experience in like hardcore punk.
Dan: But they know really well how to blend styles, they’ve got Jazz, they’ve got Doo-wop. They know how to do a cover of “96 Quite Bitter Beings” by CKY and then go into “Take 5” and then back to CKY and make it work.
Casey: They are kind of crazy to watch live.
Dan: That kind of meld of styles is what I’d want to see in a collaboration between us.
Max: We can make it happen. We can do a split! Get Cole on the phone!
Dan: Invite him to the Eagle Council.
Matthew: Get Cole in this interview.
Max: I’ve always wanted to work with this producer Jack Shirley, and if you’re reading this interview Jack, get at us. Slide in. But he produced a lot of my favorite records like Jeff Rosenstock and Home Is Where and Joyce Manor. And his schtick is recording bands live to tape, which I think would accentuate our kind of throwback, raucous rock music that we make. But he also is known for doing really weird stuff like adding singing saws and degrading tape loops that give it a lofi sound.
Casey: Following Max I would love to work with Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties. I’m obsessed with everything she’s made under that moniker, and everything I’ve heard from her where she’s been behind the board is also fantastic. She seems like a serial collaborator which I love. I actually met her at a show when I was in this band Big Air, I was playing bass, and we were all talking outside and she was talking about her music, and I asked her band’s name and she said “Illuminati Hotties” and I immediately became un-chill. I was like “Oh fuck I love your band!” and then I basically forgot how to speak. So if this ever gets back to her, sorry about that! I’m weird!
Dan: Rob Schnapf would definitely be on the list for me, considering the amount of artists and different styles he’s worked with, from Elliot Smith to Joyce Manor to Disq, whom I love a lot. There’s a certain clean-ness and focus that he could bring to the band that certainly I can’t. I also would like to collaborate with Black Market The Band, which I guess in a way we have, because their bassist Shahab played bass on “This Machine.” The musicians in that band are some of the best I know period. I would love to have them in as studio musicians, or play more shows with them because it’s always captivating and they truly are brilliant.
CMM-What do you have coming up next?
Dan: Music video! Music video! Music video!
Casey: We have a music video coming out, probably sometime in July for track 2 on the record, “23 24 25”. It was a blast to shoot, we had a great crew and it was weird just being there as the talent on the music video because I think we’re so used to doing everything ourselves that we were just like “We’re supposed to just sit here and be pretty?”
Dan: And they nodded their heads.
Casey: We’re also insane so we’re trying to write some more material –
Dan: For a double record coming out in October of this year.
Everyone Else: Fuck you
Max: We’re really just hunkering down and focusing on LP!2, keeping the tracks coming, hopefully evolving our sound.
Dan: Hopefully collaborating with the people in the previous question to help shape the sound.
Casey: And we’d like to do some Southwest Tour dates, hit up some cities outside of LA so we can avoid what Max so affectionately calls “Local Band Syndrome.” We def worked way too hard on this record to just keep playing it for the 50 or so friends who tell us “You guys are so great!”
Max: We love them though, we need them and we appreciate them. We need more of them, in different cities.
Dan: Music video! Music video! Music video!
Casey: We got that.